August 7, 2016

Grace and More Grace

Today is Sunday, and I am feeling unwell. I am physically fine, but mentally, I feel so unwell. I woke up feeling this way, and truthfully, I am not sure why. Perhaps it is the fact that it is August 7th, and I have one more week before school begins. Or perhaps it is just the realization that I am where I am, and while I am content to be in this place, I feel pressure to change, to move, to perform. Yes, I think it is the latter. I am very content with my life, although there are aspects I would like to see improved (of course). But, in general terms, I am content. I mean, I am happy to be in my current line of work. I am glad that the Lord has seen fit to make me a professor of English. I am glad that I am almost finished with my PhD program, and that I don't have anymore classes to take at school (yay!) I am also glad that for all intents and purposes, I am settled with the schools that have contracted me to teach, and I am happy (generally approved) of the courses that I will teach again this year. In all, my life, at least these parts of it, seem good. I am happy. I am pleased. I am content.

It is just in this other area, this other deeper, more spiritual area that I am feeling discontentment. I cannot really explain why -- all of the sudden -- I feel pressure to change, to move, to perform, but I do. Perhaps the Lord is pressing hard on me, letting me know that change is coming my way? Yesterday, I blogged that I felt or sensed changes coming my way, but I really didn't have any inkling what those changes might be or how or when they could come. I just felt that they would be coming soon. I wasn't afraid of the change, either. No, there was no foreboding sense that was setting me on edge or making me overly worried. But, today, I have this deepening sense that whatever the change, whatever is coming my way, well, it is significant. It is BIG, and sadly, it is going to bring an uncomfortable change into my life. Sigh!


Feelings and Such

It is funny, really, but I was reading a quote by one of my favorite Christian author's, Joyce Meyer, the other day, and today those words just popped into my head. I had seen a quote on Facebook, and it made me look deeper into something she had written a while ago. Here is the actual statement from a short devotional she wrote:

"People live by their feelings more than anything else much of the time. If you listen, you’ll hear people talk about how they feel more than just about anything else. I wonder sometimes if we’re serving the god of our feelings more than the God of the Bible" (Meyer, 2016, para. 1).

Meyer (2016) also said "We have to learn how to live beyond our feelings and do what’s right even when we feel wrong (para. 7)" I love this statement, and I agree with her wholeheartedly. I know many people who live by their feelings, who make decisions based on what they feel rather than on what they know (as in reality) or read in the Word of God. In my case, I write about my feelings daily. I express myself emotionally on my blog and in spoken moments. I am an emotional person, but not in the sense that I place a lot of stock on my feelings or use them as my only guide to life or life choices. No, not at all. My feelings come and go, and as a result, I can be sad, happy, mad, or glad all in the same day. My feelings, however, are deeply woven into my understanding and my well-being and as such they are important indicators of my general sense of self. I am highly in tune with my internal motivations and my psyche. I know myself well, and I know my thoughts, my emotions, and my intellect in such a way that I am able to rely on all three to some extent. I think the fact that I am internally attuned to my emotional status helps me better understand other people. I guess in some ways because I know myself well, and I am open and honest with my feelings, I am better able to minister to others.

Some people, conversely,  are emotionally disconnected, and by that I mean that they suppress their emotions and only choose to express logic, rational thinking, etc. These people are like robots, never able to really express deeper sentiments or willing to give in to expressing them (better put). I think it is important to be able to express feelings. I mean, after all, God created us to be emotional beings, and that means that our feelings are part of our make-up. The issue is how we use our feelings or whether we allow our feelings to control us. We have to live with our feelings, but we need to learn how to do that in a way that is healthy, whole, and God-honoring. Meyer says "Emotions won’t go away – we must learn how to manage them and not let them manage us." She is right, of course. If we let our feelings guide us without thought about where they take us, we can run the risk of making very poor choices. We can engage in destructive behaviors, actions that could damage relationships or even lead to physical harm. We must learn to keep our emotions in proper balance, how to live with them, but not allow them to rule over us.

I understand this concept well. When I was much younger, I lived by my emotions. I was an emotional wreck, always swinging one way or another. The abuse I suffered as a child didn't help matters much either. My anger burned deep within me, and as a result, it didn't take much to light my fire. Yes, a wrong word or action could send me reeling, and just like a spark can start a forest fire, my emotions were super-charged and one click, one word, could set a chain of events in motion. Thankfully, the Lord prevented me from hurting myself or others. Though I know my actions and my words did at time inflict harm. Mostly, I suffered internally with disorders that caused me great pain. I buried my hurt deep inside, and over time, those emotions would percolate upwards and they would cause me to become unbalanced, psychologically unbalanced. It was a difficult time in my life, trying to maintain my sanity and keep my emotions under wraps. Eventually, the pain wore me down, and I had to seek medical help. When I did, the Lord provided a kind person, gifted with the spiritual gift of healing, to help me understand how to deal with all that wounded emotion. Overtime, I was healed physically. The pain subsided, and the emotional turmoil simmered on low. 

The emotional strife never went away completely, and for a long time, I was able to manage to keep an even-keel in my life. I learned to escape the emotional pain by using other mechanisms rather than physical outbursts (hitting, screaming, etc.). I sought solace in my mind, in my thoughts, and yes, in my fantasy/dream life. I escaped the pain by simply ignoring the world and hiding inside imaginary worlds where I could control the outcomes, where I could manage the stress, and where I could find whatever it was that I was longing for and needing.

Eventually, even my dreams gave way to the pain and the hurt, and in the end, I was faced with a dilemma. I could find no salve to heal my wound, either real or imagined. I needed help, the kind of help that can only come from a supernatural remedy. I made the decision to trust the Lord for my very life, my soul, my innermost being, and in doing so, He gave me the thing I needed most. He healed the pain, healed that childhood wound, and gave me a new life. Mind you, I had been a Christian for nearly 30 years at this point in time, but I had never allowed the Lord to heal that hurt in me. I talked to Him about it. I cried over it, but I never really let Him take it from me. I never let my abuse, my hurt be nailed to His cross, and as such, I never experienced the relief, the refreshing touch of His mercy as it flowed into me and cleansed me. It was like when you have a serious injury, and the nurses and doctors have to perform what is called a debridement. It is a process where the wound is opened so it can be cleaned. In doing so, the process removes some of the healing in order to bring light and air to the underlying tissue. It is a painful process, but the long-term result is a completely healed wound. This is what the Lord did for me. He opened my wound to allow it to heal, to air out, and to let the light of His mercy touch it. In this way, that deeply held childhood wound was allowed to heal permanently so that it no longer caused me any pain.

After ten years, I can say now that I am free from that wound. It was something I hid inside of me for so many years. But, now I am free from the pain, the sorrow, and the hurt that I suffered as a child. The interesting thing for me is that through that healing process, something also happened to me that directly relates to this blog post. You see, I struggled to deal with my emotions as a result of that trauma. I created false mechanisms in order to keep the pain at bay. Once the wound was healed, I had to learn how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way, to learn how to express myself in a way that would not cause problems for me personally or for those in my family. This blog became my way of expressing my feelings, my emotions, my thoughts. So rather than bottle everything up inside, I took to writing my feelings out in blog posts. I let all my emotions out, even ones that were temporary, flighty, and passionate. I simply wrote about them, talked about them, and whether they made sense or not, well, that wasn't important. What was important, and still is important, is that I no longer bottle them up inside of me. I let them reach the air. I let the light of Christ shine on them. I let the Word clarify them, and in doing so, I receive clarification to help me see if my emotions are tied to a spiritual matter, a physical or mental challenge, or if they are simply driven by my hormones. You see, I struggled for years to understand my emotions. I struggled to know how to separate my feelings from my reality. Through the exercise of writing, I have come to learn how to differentiate between them. I can more easily see where I am, so to speak, mentally, simply because I take the time to write about how I feel each day, each morning.

In Closing

Today, I am feeling that my life is about to take a sharp turn, to round a very steep corner, and as a result, I am going to feel out of kilter and off-balanced. I am not sure why, but I know the Lord has me well-covered. I may not feel "well" inside, but my Lord is there, my steady ROCK, and He is at the helm of my life. He is calling the shots, making the decisions, and captaining this ship. He has a steady course planned for me, and while the seas may roll and even rock, He calls to me and reminds me that He is in control. I do not have to fear today. I do not need to be afraid. 

My emotions swell. My heart pounds. I wonder what will be, what will happen, what will come to pass, yet He guides me and says to me, "Fear not, for I am with you." Yes, He is with me, and as such, I will not be afraid. He is good, so very good to me today.

Reference

Meyer, J. (2016). How to live for God, not your feelings. Retrieved from https://www.joycemeyer.org/articles/ea.aspx?article=how_to_live_for_god

No comments: